Latest News, Opinion, WVPA Sharing

Opinion: Real change for West Virginia

By Jim Pritt

West Virginia is a beautiful state, and for all of us that chose to live and work here, we would agree that West Virginia is a wonderful place to raise a family. However, the next generation of West Virginians we are raising may not agree. West Virginia is facing an outward migration of talent. Our best and brightest are leaving our state for more lucrative careers and opportunities elsewhere. Our leaders need to take aggressive action now to reverse this outward migration.

Jim Pritt


The only way to reverse this trend is to provide well-paying, rewarding careers to the next generation of West Virginians. What is the best opportunity West Virginia has to provide these careers to our young people? The answer is plain and simple. It is the oil and natural gas industry. West Virginia is home to the largest shale gas formation in the world, and we have the potential to become the nation’s leader in oil and natural gas production.


The oil and natural gas industry represents the hope West Virginians need to pull our state out of 50th place. Oil and natural gas represents the future of our great state. Our industry can be the catalyst for other industries, development and careers for current and future generations. It is critical that our leadership recognize this opportunity, put aside their differences and work together to make the most of this incredibly marketable commodity.


Why? The answer again is plain and simple. We need to utilize our natural resources, which are readily available, to be competitive with our bordering states and keep our best and brightest home. West Virginia has fallen behind our largest competitors, Ohio and Pennsylvania, because of the limitations we face through regulations, taxes and production costs. Production in Ohio grew by 1.2 billion cubic feet per day last year, while West Virginia’s yield grew by 100 million cubic feet per day. Rig counts are used as a measure of productive activity within the oil and gas industry, and West Virginia currently has 14 drilling rigs working, whereas Pennsylvania has 32 and Ohio has 29. West Virginia fell behind our sister states several years ago, and this trend will continue until we address limitations related to regulations, taxes and production costs.


West Virginia is the only state in our region not to allow some form of co-tenancy policy. Our laws simply are not competitive with the surrounding states, and as a result, more and more companies are leaving West Virginia and pursuing opportunities in our surrounding states. In West Virginia, it is illegal to drill a well when the majority of mineral owners wish to permit the use of their mineral rights for the drilling, but one mineral owner objects. One person should not be able to prevent the development of our precious minerals and cause such waste to all the citizens of our state.


We need to take the measures necessary to keep our young people in West Virginia. The implementation of new co-tenancy policies (with appropriate protections for both the surface and non-consenting mineral owners) would allow mineral owners to receive their share of royalty income. More importantly, it would also allow for the drilling of additional wells with extended laterals (like other states are now doing), bringing in more job opportunities, revenue and state tax dollars to the citizens of West Virginia. It is extremely important that we act now in order to take advantage of the Appalachian Storage Hub and resulting downstream petrochemical industry development so West Virginia will claim its rightful share of economic growth.


We ask the legislative leaders to put aside their differences and take the necessary action to make West Virginia competitive with our neighboring states and provide the economic development we need for our future. Remember, hope can move mountains; and in this case, it can save the Mountain State.


— Jim Pritt is the public affairs manager for Enervest Operating, LLC. EnerVest is one of the 25 largest oil and gas companies in the US, with 40,000 wells across 15 states, 6.5 million acres under lease and $8 billion in assets under management.




Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

And get our latest content in your inbox

Invalid email address